TEDx events are known for uniting people around topics, passions, and ideas. This shaking up of the norm is precisely what allows for such insights, connections, and life-changing moments to be made. At least three speakers at TEDxUniversityofNevada 2016 focused on spreading big ideas about the essence of mindful and purposeful relationships. Together San Francisco-based physical therapist Amy Selinger, author and food expert Elissa Altman, and world-renown architect Bill Smith shared various insight about everything from the relationships we have with our bodies, to our families, to our employees.
In the first talk, Amy Selinger, founder of the physical therapy practice Back to Life asked the audience if anyone has ever had an experience with back pain. By show of hands, nearly everyone in the audience raised their hand. In fact, “at least 80 percent of us will develop chronic back pain in our adult lives.” As a board certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the University of California San Francisco/San Francisco State University Graduate Program in Physical Therapy, Amy explained how having an awareness about our posture, movements, and our habits daily habits can help to minimize back pain. “Because of our lifestyles, our muscles are trained to be inflexible,” she shared. “Engage your core. Increase your activity. Vary your movements.” Through her own struggles with back pain, Amy realized that generalized approaches to chronic musculoskeletal pain are often not helpful and may actually contribute increasingly to discomfort. She shared a story about a client and Iron Man competitor with intense back pain, whose pain resulted from training the wrong muscles. “A six pack does not mean you have a strong core.” In short, the simple practice of tuning into our relationships with our bodies can have long-term, positive, and impactful results.
Next, award-winning memoirist talked about the relationships we have with our loved ones, specifically senior citizens, and how food can serve as a fundamental connector. Elissa writes the monthly Washington Post column, Feeding My Mother, and is also the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir, Poor Man’s Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking. Through her talk, she urged the audience to create a “tribal fire” and to share dinner, food, concepts, and experiences with those around you. According to Elissa, the Modern Tribal Fire is the relationship we gain by breaking bread together, and sharing the connection. In sharing stories about her own relationships with food and family, she drove home the point that even though food can be mundane, it is also very valuable. As a five-time selectee for inclusion in the annual Best Food Writing, Altman focuses much of her writing on issues of moral, spiritual, gustatory, and creative sustenance. Her work has appeared everywhere from the New York Times and Oprah Magazine to Tin House, Dame Magazine, and Saveur.
In a third example illustrating the importance of our relationships, world-renowned architect and author, Bill Smith talked about the importance of unifying employees and coworkers around a vision to bring out our best work. Bill has built some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including CityCenter in Las Vegas, the largest privately funded development in U.S. history at $9 billion. In his talk about leadership and vision, he zeroed in on sharing his method for how to unite employees and inspire them to do great work. “People are capable of great things when all of their interests are aligned,” he mused. “Align people to maximize human potential. How will you ensure that company principles are set to maximize the power of human alignment?” According to Bill, for alignment to happen one must establish a project vision, find the right people, empower decision making, and then find more people. Bill is an avid University lecturer, having served as a guest speaker at several Harvard Business School Workshops. His critically acclaimed book, Creating CityCenter, has been released internationally by W.W. Norton & Company.
To summarize, by building more conscious and purposeful relationships in our lives we not only gain a higher level of awareness and more clarity about issues as they rise to the surface, but experience more knowledgeable interactions and healthier partnerships.